DIFF'RENT STROKES-- "The Reporter" Episode 22 -- Aired 3/19/83 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mary Jo Catlett as Pearl Gallagher, Dana Plato as Kimberly Drummond, Conrad Bain as Philip Drummond, Todd Bridges as Willis Jackson, Nancy Reagan as herself (front center) Gary Coleman as Arnold Jackson. NBC—NBC via Getty Images
NBC—NBC via Getty Images
By Maya Rhodan
March 7, 2016

Actor Todd Bridges says the episode of the 1980s sitcom Diff’rent Strokes featuring then-First Lady Nancy Reagan helped him when he hit rock-bottom.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the former child star — who struggled with addiction to crack cocaine — opened up about the late First Lady’s appearance on the sitcom to promote her anti-drug abuse initiative “Just Say No.”

Bridges says he was not yet addicted to drugs when Reagan appeared in an episode as herself, traveling to New York to meet with Gary Coleman’s character to talk about drug abuse.

Though the former First Lady did not reach out to him as he struggled with his own addiction issues, Bridges says her message hit home when he was down and out. He tells THR:

At my lowest point, I started remembering what she was talking about and the reason why the stuff was so bad. Once you figure out the root cause — what makes you do something [self-destructive] — you figure out how to stop. It’s really all about you when it comes down to it. You can’t blame anybody else. You can’t put it on whatever environment you grew up in. You have to quit blaming and put the responsibility on yourself to get off of it.

The actor says he has been sober for 22 years. Nancy Reagan died of congestive heart failure at age 94 on March 6.

Read the full interview at the Hollywood Reporter.

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